Professor Loeske Kruuk from the ANU Research School of Biology has been awarded a prestigious Australian Research Council (ARC) Australian Laureate Fellowship.
Professor Kruuk will receive $3.3 million in funding from the ARC to pursue research into the effects of changing environments on wild animal populations across Australia.
"Australia has an amazing resource of detailed long-term studies of wild animal populations across the country," says Professor Kruuk.
"My aim with this Laureate project is to bring together 14 long-term studies, ranging from kangaroos to fairy-wrens, to explore their responses to environmental change and to use genomic tools to investigate their evolutionary dynamics."
Her project aims to “quantify the genetic basis of life-history variation and the potential for evolutionary adaptation in the wild” by combining recent advances in genomic technology with a number of long-term studies of mammals, birds and reptiles.
She says the project “will generate a comprehensive understanding of the genetic consequences of environmental change, population decline, inbreeding and disease in natural environments.”
Professor Kruuk is an evolutionary ecologist with a broad range of interests in how evolution works in natural populations. Her first long-term study was on red deer in the United Kingdom, introducing her, she says, “to the huge potential of long-term studies of wild animal populations to explore a wide range of interesting questions about life history evolution and quantitative genetics.”
Her research in Australia has included studies of superb fairy wrens at the neighbouring Australian National Botanic Gardens and other bird species all across Australia; quantitative genetics and plasticity in mosquitofish; and quantitative genetics of geckos.
Professor Sue Thomas from the ARC says the Fellowships are awarded to “our best and brightest researchers working to build on Australia’s knowledge base for the future.”